Among the many social ills weaponized by Republicans for electoral gain last year (albeit ineffectively) was an undeniable increase in auto thefts, seized upon by Republicans along with the general uptick in property crimes over the past couple of years as evidence of Democratic mismanagement. The causes of increased criminal activity after decades of decline is a complicated subject best addressed with an exploration of the roots of the problem, but nuance was the last thing Republicans wanted as they demanded a crackdown and rollback of sentencing and police conduct reforms.
And of course, the only real way to solve the problem was to vote Republican last November! But in the end, voters saw through the GOP’s “Crimenado” blame-gaming, and instead punished Republicans at the polls once again. This year, a bipartisan bill to make the theft of low-value cars a felony, like cars worth over $2,500, is moving forward with little resistance–which neutralizes the politics of the issue at least for the present.
But even that is not the whole story: as it turns out, there’s a very much non-political factor helping drive the increase in auto thefts. KDVR FOX 31’s DJ Summers, the station’s “data guru” with relatively unconcealed conservative leanings, reports accurately:
Several Colorado authorities including the Colorado State Patrol, Auto Theft Prevention Authority, Division of Insurance and Division of Motor Vehicles have identified an increase in thefts of certain late-model Kias and Hyundais. These cars are being stolen more than 10 times as often as in 2019 and now make up a large share of the total number of cars stolen in the state. [Pols emphasis]
Last summer, a video posted to the social media site TikTok revealed a defect in a wide range of cars made by Hyundai, which also owns Kia, allowing vehicles that still use a traditional-style key to be easily stolen. Thieves need nothing more than a computer USB cable to turn the ignition and start affected cars.
The result? A massive spike in thefts of Hyundai and Kia models that we now know has significantly contributed to the overall increase in auto theft reported across the country and in Colorado:
These vehicles make up a disproportionate share of Colorado’s stolen vehicles. Of the motor vehicles stolen in 2022, 13% were Kias and 12% were Hyundais.
The share of passenger vehicles that are Kias or Hyundais is even higher. Together, those two makes represented about one-third of all stolen passenger vehicles in 2022. Kias were 15% of all stolen passenger vehicles and Hyundais another 15%.
To put this in perspective, in 2022 Hyundai and Kia had a combined 11% market share in U.S. light vehicle sales, but were responsible for a wildly disproportionate 25% of all motor vehicle thefts and 30% of passenger vehicle thefts. That’s not a political or even a criminal justice problem–it’s a product brand with a flaw being massively exploited.
It’s just another example of Colorado Republicans trying as they regularly do to turn every news headline into a political bludgeon to use against their opponents. But this time, the facts don’t fit the spin: a giant multinational corporation manufactured a defective product that led to a major spike in thefts of that product–enough to significantly skew the nationwide statistics for auto theft in 2022.
And as much as Republicans wanted easily-stolen Hyundais and Kias to be Jared Polis’ fault, it just isn’t.
Bullshit Guvs, Jared Polis went back in time and convinced Hyundai to skimp on vehicle security to continue the war against capitalist oppression. Steffan Tubbs said so! #DENVERINDECAY
Nice try. Only weak, unarmed libruls drive Kias and Hyundais. Real Americans (TM) drive American-Made*, dick-compensating trucks made my American companies like Ford, Chevy and Dodge.**
* – not all parts sourced and/or assembled in America.
** – this is all sarcasm, just to be clear.
Will Mac users be able to steal a car with connectors like Lightning or USB-C? Asking for a friend.
You'll need a dongle.